Dependent Stance: Ones

All great models of human persons agree that three basic intelligences give us modes of being in the world—thinking, feeling, and doing. All Enneagram types place thinking, feeling, and doing in one of the three categories—preferred[1], repressed, and supporting. The Enneagram’s Dependent Stance is organized around their shared repression of the thinking center.


Unfortunately, your preferred center recognizes only one third of the human experience, and disregards the other two thirds. As you wear your preferred “lenses,” you neglect, to your own detriment, to see and develop the other two centers. Developing your repressed center is some of the most important and difficult Enneagram work. Therefore, this series of posts will focus on how the Dependent Stance can nurture their center of thinking intelligence.


Dependent Stance numbers (One, Two and Six) are oriented to the actions of others. Ones, in particular, see the world through the doing center and they process what they see with feeling and doing. Generally they feel bad about their behavior and then reform their performance or resolve to do better next time. Unfortunately, Ones cannot accurately assess their own behavior so they judge themselves too harshly.


Ones only see themselves as good when they are doing, working, or improving. Ones, if you are not sure of the truth of that statement, try to stop a project mid task; you will find feelings of worthlessness and valueless-ness arise inside. When Ones are not doing they are often perfecting their performance in their head. Most Ones think that their perfecting mind and internal judgments consists of thinking, but it is not productive thinking it is “busyness” or compulsion. Thinking is an inherently productive act that moves from one ideological position to another. This mental activity is distinctive because it generates new insights and comes to new conclusions. The judgments of the One is not thinking because they are based on a standard that are almost always borrowed, external, and rarely questioned as to its accuracy or helpfulness. When thinking is repressed Ones cannot accurately assess and determine when something is good enough. Left unchecked, their mental and physical activity are compulsions, which derive out of feelings of inadequacy, and ultimately derive its core from a deep seeded unspoken/unaware belief that they have no value unless they can perfect, reform, or achieve.


Because feeling supports doing, Ones have feelings about their behavior, compelling them to become emotionally attached to what they do and how they do it. This can take the form of self-righteous assurance that, “I do it right.” Ones are not emotional people by nature. They feel about their actions and the actions of others and they can attach more to a person’s behavior than to people themselves. When things don’t go according to plan Ones do not do well because they are emotionally attached to their behavior.


The One might think that their justification for why they “do it right” constitutes thinking. However, true thinking would adopt a posture of openness and non-judgment that might sound more like this: “I wonder… what are some of the strengths and weaknesses of my approach?” This question, if it is productive thinking, would yield new insights rather than rehears old standards.


Ones, identify an area where your judgmental voice is generally present in your life. You will know this voice because it will always be completely against you. Any line of thought that is totally critical of you is not true thinking. When you catch this voice criticizing you, take a deep breath, and pay attention to your jaw, stomach, and upper back in the shoulders. Is there tightness there? Anger manifests itself in these places. Continue to be mindful your jaw and allow it to relax. Ask yourself a question that you have already prepared in advance. You might ask: “How does God see my behavior?” If God seems distant or is not a loving presence for you, pick someone else in your life who loves you well. This practice could be combined with the Ignatian practice of the Daily Examen.


Ones see life and work as responsibility. This is a function of their orientation toward doing. It causes them to make lists and over focus on details. This is the Ones way of perfecting doing. They sacrifice personal needs for the things they feel they shoulddo. Ones, watch for shouldor ought in your vocabulary. These words are signs that your critical voice is in charge and you are not thinking productively. Ask yourself these questions daily “What are my ‘shoulds’ that I find myself entrapped in and duty bound? What ‘shoulds’ need to be re-evaluated today?” Maybe ask a trusted friend or spouse to help you evaluate your “should” with kindness and charitability. Make a plan to get away regularly, and go somewhere where you are not responsible for things so that the shoulds and oughts will step down and you can truly think.

[1]Some enneagram teachers use the language of “dominant.”